Arizona didn’t just defeat San Diego State, they sent a message to the rest of the country. They may not be perfect or dominant, but they’re as good and dangerous as any team in the land, led by Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons.
The Wildcats survived Florida and now they survived another nationally ranked opponent. At 12-0, this is Arizona’s best start in 25 years. I can’t see them losing too many games as they enter conference play next week but here’s a look at next month’s schedule to project maybe when it could happen.
January 3 vs. Colorado: Arizona’s Pac-12 opener will be a tough showdown against a physical Buffaloes team and Pac-12 rebounding leader Andre Roberson (11.9 rpg). Colorado has an underrated backcourt in Spencer Dinwiddie/Askia Booker but I don’t think the Wildcats lose here.
Jan. 10 at Oregon: Oregon’s got the 2nd-best scoring offense in the Pac-12 and right behind Arizona as the 2nd-best rebounding team in the conference. Both teams are excellent defensively but while Oregon may lack a go-to-guy, Arizona has several guys who have proved they can take over a game. Expect another close game that the Wildcats survive.
Jan 12 at Oregon State: It wouldn’t shock me if the Beavers upset quite a few teams in the Pac-12. It’d shock me if Arizona was one of those teams. The Beavers are another good team with solid scorers in Roberto Nelson/Devon Collier but they rank last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense. Good luck beating the Wildcats if you can’t stop them from scoring.
Jan. 19 vs. Arizona State: Nothing like an rivalry game to be a trap game, especially when the Sun Devils are also playing great behind freshman sensation Jahii Carson. Again, Arizona’s hosting this game and I don’t find most teams beating them at home. Yet it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost just due to the intensity of this rivalry.
If I was a betting man, I’d say Arizona potentially loses to their neighbor in Tempe. They also host an improving UCLA squad on January 24 as well. At the same time, I don’t see the Wildcats losing many games between now and the Final Four. Their depth is starting to come out and if their freshmen trio of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski start collectively producing, the Wildcats’ best is yet to come.